Biosphere 2: Background information when reading The Terranauts

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Terranauts

by T.C. Boyle

The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle X
The Terranauts by T.C. Boyle
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2016, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2017, 528 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
James Broderick

Buy This Book

About this Book

Biosphere 2

This article relates to The Terranauts

Print Review

In Oracle, Arizona, sits one of the more intriguing experiments in "closed-system" science ever devised: Biosphere 2, which forms the backdrop for the novel, The Terranauts. Originally built to demonstrate that humans could construct and live sustainably for long periods in an artificially created world, the huge glass domes that make up the structure no longer host human inhabitants. However, far from becoming a white elephant, Biosphere 2 remains an active laboratory for scientific research and outreach, hosting visitors ranging from elementary schools to post-graduate scientific researchers.

Biosphere 2Construction of Biosphere 2, which began in 1987, took four years. Shortly after it was completed, a group of eight researchers entered the facility for a two-year residency. Each of the inhabitants was in charge of different aspects of the self-contained world. The five biomes consisted of a rain forest; an ocean, (a tank 100 x 60 feet, approximately 25 feet deep, with a lagoon, a coral reef, a sandy beach, and a series of pumps that operate as a wave machine); a wetlands; a savannah grassland; and a desert. Plants such as bananas, papayas, potatoes, and beans; livestock (five goats, three pigs, dozens of hens and roosters); and tilapia grown in a rice pond supplied the majority of food for the biospherians. Food shortages led to persistent hunger among most of the inhabitants for much of their time inside the structure, which also included modest living quarters.

Although no one was supposed to "break containment," it was revealed during the first mission that an injured crew member did leave, and even brought in some supplies when re-entering the facility. However, the mission continued, ending Sept. 26, 1993, exactly two years to the day after the biospherians were sealed in. A second mission with another cohort began in March 1994, but ended prematurely in September of that year due largely to financial problems with the private company, Space Biosphere Ventures, that financed and managed the facility.

In 1995, Columbia University took over the management of the biosphere, using it as a research facility until 2003. Shortly thereafter, the owners of the site—which includes 1,600 acres surrounding the biosphere as a kind of desert campus—put it all up for sale. The surrounding land was purchased for housing and resort development, but the biosphere itself was acquired by the University of Arizona, which uses it today for educational and research purposes.

Picture of Biosphere 2 by DrStarbuck

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Terranauts. It originally ran in January 2017 and has been updated for the October 2017 paperback edition.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: Educated
    Educated
    by Tara Westover
    Voted 2018 Best Nonfiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Tara Westover had the kind of ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Voted 2018 Best Fiction Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Towards the end of Madeline Miller...
  • Book Jacket: Children of Blood and Bone
    Children of Blood and Bone
    by Tomi Adeyemi
    Voted 2018 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    What would you do if, in a ...
  • Book Jacket: Where the Crawdads Sing
    Where the Crawdads Sing
    by Delia Owens
    Voted 2018 Best Debut Novel Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Where the Crawdads Sing was a ...

See all Award Winners & Top 20

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Unsheltered
by Barbara Kingsolver

A timely novel that explores the human capacity for resiliency and compassion.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Ladder to the Sky
    by John Boyne

    A seductive, unputdownable psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 ½ Deaths of
Evelyn Hardcastle

"Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read." - A. J. Finn

Enter

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay: $400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.